Daily Archives: April 18, 2017

Surprise Prince EP to Arrive One Year After Death

Prince unleashes fervent guitar and vocal performance on “Deliverance,” the title-track from a new posthumous EP out April 21st. Deliverance is available to pre-order through digital retailers, while the song can be streamed on Apple Music.

“Deliverance” opens with fierce blues riff before settling into a steady gospel-tinged groove that builds with an increasingly bombastic mix of guitar, organ and back-up vocals. Prince’s vocals are nimble but charged – “You can ease the pain of a few but until God intervenes/ Ain’t nothing, nothing man can do/ Except cause each other injury/ Somebody say, ‘Katrina levees'” – while the musician also unleashes a quintessentially roaring guitar solo.

Prince co-wrote and co-produced the six Deliverance songs with frequent collaborator Ian Boxill between 2006 and 2008. Boxill completed and mixed the songs after Prince’s death last year. Along with the title song, the EP includes a four-movement medley titled “Man Opera” that comprises the tracks “I Am,” “Touch Me,” “Sunrise Sunset” and “No One Else.” The EP closes with an extended version of “I Am.”

The six Deliverance tracks were also written while Prince was working as an independent artist and fittingly the EP will be released via the Vancouver-based indie label, RMA. In a statement, Boxill said, “Prince once told me that he would go to bed every night thinking of ways to bypass major labels and get his music directly to the public. When considering how to release this important work, we decided to go independent because that’s what Prince would have wanted.”

News of Deliverance arrives after search warrants for the singer’s Paisley Park compound were unsealed Monday, providing some insight into the musician’s death from an accidental overdose of the painkiller Fentanyl at age 57. The warrants uncovered controlled substances – primarily painkillers that required a doctor’s prescription – hidden throughout the compound.

Prince Deliverance Track List
1. “Deliverance”
2. “I Am”
3. “Touch Me”
4. “Sunrise Sunset”
5. “No One Else”
6. “I Am” (extended)

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Pioneering Rap DJs Stretch and Bobbito Detail New NPR Show

Pioneering New York City hip-hop radio DJs Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia will return with a new NPR podcast this summer. The pair – real names Adrian Bartos and Robert Garcia – teased the new show with a trailer featuring snippets of an interview with El-P from Run the Jewels.

In the clip, Stretch and Bobbito recount their Nineties rise, during which their show on Columbia University’s WKCR became a proving ground and launching pad for MCs like Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Eminem and Busta Rhymes. As El-P says of Stretch and Bobbito’s show, “We looked up to you guys as the most important thing you could possibly do. For rap music, you weren’t ish until that moment.”

While Stretch and Bobbito will continue to discuss and cover hip-hop and music on their new podcast, the pair will also tackle art, politics, sports and more. “It’s a crazy journey we’ve taken from doing a radio show on a radio station in 1990 with a console from the Sixties that had dustballs in it,” Stretch says, before Bobbito adds, “And now NPR.”

A premiere date for Stretch and Bobbito’s NPR podcast has yet to be announced. The show follows a limited-run series the pair produced for Samsung 837 last year.

In 2015, Stretch and Bobbito were the subjects of a documentary, Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives. The duo’s massive archive of shows from the Nineties is also available to peruse on Mixcloud. 

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New Undiscovered Prince Recordings To Be Released This Friday With "DELIVERANCE" EP

NEW UNDISCOVERED PRINCE RECORDINGS TO BE RELEASED THIS FRIDAY WITH “DELIVERANCE” EPVANCOUVER, Wash., April 18, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — In honor of the one year anniversary of Pop icon Prince’s passing, RMA (Rogue Music Alliance) is releasing a special six song EP titled DELIVERANCE, of new, undiscovered studio recordings from 2006-2008 this Friday, April 21.  The title trac…


See Jack White, Elton John Recreate Early American Recording Sessions

Jack White, Elton John, Nas, Taj Mahal and more will explore and recreate one of the most pivotal moments in American music history in the new three-part documentary, American Epic, and the feature-length film, The American Epic Sessions. American Epic premiered at Sundance and will air on PBS May 16th, 23rd and 30th, while The American Epic Sessions will air June 6th on PBS. A massive American Epic Sessions soundtrack will arrive May 12th via Third Man Records, Legacy Recordings and Columbia.

American Epic will chronicle a period of monumental change for the music industry. As director Bernard MacMahon explains in the trailer, in the Twenties, record companies feared that radio was about to become the dominant player in the music industry, so they ventured across the country with the first electrical recording rig in search of new artists and markets. While none of these machines survived, audio engineer Nicholas Bergh managed to reassemble one from its original parts, and his rig was used to record all the music for the accompanying film, The American Epic Sessions.

“Some of the people who were just incredible heroes of mine first recorded on those machines in the Twenties,” Taj Mahal says in the trailer. “To be to go all the way back and come through this portal again, in this lifetime, is phenomenal!”

White and producer T. Bone Burnett helmed The American Epic Sessions which will feature performances from the Alabama Shakes, Beck, Avett Brothers, Los Lobos, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Steve Martin, Edie Brickell, Rhiannon Giddens, Raphael Saadiq and more. The 100-song soundtrack will boast a mix of these new recordings, as well as archival recordings from the Twenties and Thirties.

An American Epic companion book will be published May 2nd via Touchstone. In the book, MacMahon and producer Allison McGourty will offer a behind-the-scenes account of their travels as they searched for long-lost recordings and people who witnessed these early sessions. The book will include unseen photographs and artwork, as well as contributions from Taj Mahal, Nas, Willie Nelson and more.

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Review: Kendrick Lamar Remains Complex, Relentless on 'Damn.'

Kendrick Lamar has already taken hip-hop to the outer galaxies of style, sound and resonance. Protesters in Chicago, Cleveland, Oakland and New York took to the streets singing his 2015 single “Alright” like it was the new “We Shall Overcome.” His last album, To Pimp a Butterfly, will likely go down as the defining reflection of the America that spawned #BlackLivesMatter, in the same way Pablo Picasso’s Guernica stands as the defining reflection of the Spanish Civil War.

But two years later, the perils of fame and the exhaustion of fighting for social justice seem to weigh on Lamar. “Last LP I tried to lift the black artists,” he laments on “Element,” one of the many bruising, battle-scarred battle-raps on his fourth LP, Damn. “But it’s a difference between black artists and wack artists.”

Seemingly exhausted with the burden of constantly pushing hip-hop forward into concept operas, electric Miles explosions and Flying Lotus electronic burbles, Damn. seemingly takes a classicist route to rap music. If To Pimp a Butterfly was the best rap album in 2015, Damn. is the platonic ideal of the best rap album of 1995, a dazzling display of showy rhyme skills, consciousness-raising political screeds, self-examination and bass-crazy-kicking. Kendrick has many talents – pop star, avant-garde poet, lyrical gymnast, storyteller. But here he explores what we traditionally know as a “rapper” more than on any of his albums to date. The rhymes on songs like “DNA,” “Element,” “Feel,” “Humble” and “XXX” come fast, furious and almost purist in nature. In an era where “bars” seems almost old-fashioned in the age of Drake’s polyglot tunesmithery, Young Thug’s Silly-Putty syllable stretching and Future’s expressionist robo-croak, Lamar builds a bridge to the past.

On Butterfly, he untangled the mess in his mind with multiple personalities and distended voices, an Inside Out-esque spray where different emotions would almost require different timbres. Now he stares down almost everything with the same voice and a singular focus, whether his problems are external (Fox News, the prison-industrial complex, guns), internal (self-doubt, pride) or something in between (see the masterful “Lust,” which treats news of Donald Trump’s election as but a rumble in a monotonous Groundhog Day timeline of existence). His flow remains exquisite without having fall back on the dramatic filigrees he brought to Butterfly. Producers like Mike Will Made It and Sounwave make Damn. feel state of the art – an album full of beat changes, tempo switches, backmasking, needle bounces and broken melodies – but Lamar’s rapping is timeless enough to step into Ice Cube’s Death Certificate Timberlands.

Of course, this is Kendrick Lamar, so if he’s going to delve into a more classic style of rap, he’s going to take a complex, multifaceted, strange, unexpected path to get there. His twists on vintage hip-hop are downright post-modern. Kid Capri, the DJ whose blends and airhorn voice were omnipresent on early Nineties mixtapes, shows up with his iconic voice. But instead of brassy hype, he drops existential koans like, “Y’all know, what happens on Earth stays on Earth.” “XXX” is a vintage screed about clapping back at killer cops, perfectly in line with Rodney King-era revenge fantasies by Geto Boys, Paris and Lamar’s personal hero 2Pac. But Lamar goes deeper into his own mind, painting blood-soaked hypotheticals and then juxtaposing them against his desires for gun control. (U2 are featured on the track, but their input sounds like maybe eight measures of a melody used like a sample.)

That’s the electric part about Damn.: 2Pac rapped through his contradictions; Lamar raps about his contradictions. The theme here is humility, and Kendrick clearly has mixed feelings. On “Loyalty,” he treats his boasts like a weakness, with Rihanna crooning “It’s so hard to be humble.” On “Pride,” he treats his boasts as an annoying obligation, drolly saying “I can’t fake humble just ’cause your ass is insecure.” Then, on “Humble,” he finally screams “Bitch, be humble” like he worked up the confidence. And even then, you can’t help but wonder if he’s talking to himself. On “Element,” he’ll say “I don’t give a fuck” but then immediately follow it with “I’m willin’ to die for this shit.”

In the album’s introduction, Lamar helps a blind lady searching for something on the ground, and she turns out to be a murderer. The meaning of this metaphor is open for debate, but one thing is indisputable: Kendrick Lamar sees himself as someone here to help people find the things they have lost –quite often, it seems, a sense of humanity itself. And that’s a huge job for one man, especially since his peers can hold court on a relatively smaller part of the collective subconscious. Chance the Rapper raps like America’s hope and optimism; Kanye West its untethered id and basest impulses. Hundreds of street-level mixtape rappers represent anger and nihilism; and mega-stars like Drake, J. Cole, Big Sean, Nicki Minaj and Eminem are all explorations of various ideas of self. Lamar, patient and meticulous, self-doubting yet bold, is left as pretty much the unofficial navigator of everything else, a wide, complex, occasionally paradoxical gulf of noise.

Lamar’s gift is not just that he can say why he’s the best (“I got power, poison, pain and joy inside my DNA”), but also that he articulate how this responsibility feels (“I feel like the whole world want me to pray for ’em/But who the fuck prayin’ for me?”). He can paint pride and agony with the same brush, and it’s that ability that makes “Fear” probably the most emotionally rich song in his entire discography. Like Sigmund Freud meets Scarface, Lamar connects the dots from the seven-year-old terrified of catching a beating from his mother to the 17-year-old terrified of being murdered by police to the 27-year-old terrified of fame. “I practiced runnin’ from fear, guess I had some good luck,” he raps with ease. “At 27 years old, my biggest fear was bein’ judged.”

Much like the recent A Tribe Called Quest record, Damn. is a brilliant combination of the timeless and the modern, the old school and the next-level. The most gifted rapper of a generation stomps into the Nineties and continues to blaze a trail forward. Don’t be confused if he can’t stay humble.

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Hear Apocalyptic 'Nine Inch Nails Mix' of Todd Rundgren's New Song 'Deaf Ears'

A week after Todd Rundgren premiered his somber Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross collaboration, “Deaf Ears,” Reznor unveiled a “Nine Inch Nails mix” of the track. The original track will appear on Rundgren’s upcoming solo album White Knight, out May 12th.

While Rundgren’s official version already felt like an apocalyptic survey of modern times, Reznor’s mix is much more glitch-y and minimalist. According to a previous release from Rundgren on the track, the final song was already mostly what Reznor and Ross had sent him with a few added “flourishes” and of course his vocals.

“Todd Rundgren is a hero of mine,” Reznor wrote in the YouTube caption for the audio video. “His records (solo and Utopia!), his songwriting, his production and his musicianship … all played a huge role shaping me into who I am. Atticus and I sent Todd a wealth of ideas for his new record. He worked on this track and released the “proper” version … We then took what he did and moved it forward (or backward, depending on your perspective) into this.”

White Knight follows Rundgren’s 2015 album Runddans. The LP will also feature collaborations with Robyn, Daryl Hall, Joe Walsh and Donald Fagen.

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New Survey Documents Independent Labels' Experiences With The DMCA

A New Study Confirms That Independent Labels Face Challenges In Dealing With Unauthorized Uses Of Their Sound Recordings